[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Author Index][Search Archives]
Crown, Politics, & etc.
Following is the first half of a treatise written by Ioseph of
Locksley which, although written in 1989 or so, I find to be just as
pertinent today, times having changed so little in this regard.
Herewith is a message that I wrote on a local BBS in answer to a small
question from a member of the Dark Horde. I have elaborated it to some
degree, as it may be educational for our membership. It has been
further expanded from the initial writing, for the purposes of this
article. Some of the content applies pretty much exclusively to the
Kingdom of Atenveldt, but the balance of the article should apply
universally in the SCA.
Perhaps a little more elaboration on the subject is in order: *sigh*
No "voting" per se, but it IS the right of the Peerage to advise the
Crown concerning those Peerages, or matters that affect those
Peerages, as it is the right of the landed Barons/esses to do the same
relative to matters which affect their Baronies, as it is the Dukes on
any matter they damn well please....BTW: the original purpose of the
title of "Court" Baron and Baroness was to give a qualified and
valuble person acess to the Curia Regis/Princeps who otherwise didn't
have the rank or position to get into such a thing. This Curia has
fallen into disuse of late, and perhaps should be
revived...........this gives us a nice system of checks and balances,
and prevents an absolute incompetent from destroying the Game for all
of us. Bear in mind, also, that the SCA is set up, essentially, as a
Constitutional Monarchy, with Corpora/By-Laws being the Constitution.
A King, or Queen CANNOT violate Corpora/By-Laws with impunity.....but
violation of Custom tends to be more expensive in the long run,
because it loses people's respect, and thus erodes the violator's
actual governing power.....read over the Oath taken by the King at his
Coronation.....and, also, the Seneshal can wind up having the last
word in that department, as can the Herald in his/hers, as can the
Marshall in his/hers, and so forth. Tyrants tend to find out that they
cannot accomplish jack-diddelly without the "advice AND consent" of
most of the Peers/Officers of the group. Do NOT EVER forget, however,
that in many things the KING'S WORD IS LAW, subject to Corpora and the
BoD, and, in certain instances, to Kingdom Law.
All of the above applies equally as well to Principalities, and
Baronies. As a sitting Baron, I can no more violate Corpora, or
Kingdom Law, than the Prince or King can, and to violate Customary
Law.....well, that would put me in more hot water than I'd care to
think about, not with the Powers-that-be, but with the
People......and, as any Poly-Sci major will tell you, in ANY system,
political power ultimately derives from the consent of the governed.
If the populace doesn't like what's being done, they can choose to:
a) not participate (strike), b) or leave
altogether (emigrate), c) or turn and bite those in power
right where it will do the most good (revolution).
Factionalisim in the SCA is simply a function of one of the above
three, as NO person in power can please everybody's personal
interests. The point that factionalisim becomes destructive is when
a) want power for the sake of power, or b) put
personal interests above those of the SCA as a whole.
Usually what happens in the above two situations is that the
factionalists find that the three responses of the populace happen
REAL fast, and they either throw the b******s out, or simply don't
co-operate, and organize yet another faction, and plot
revolution........the beat goes on!
One thing that is IMPORTANT to remember is that SCA politics should
NEVER be "personal." If you can't remain mundane friends with your SCA
political opponent, then GET OUT of the game, because the Dream will
quickly change into a Nightmare! If you cannot deal chivalrously and
honourably with your opponent, then you have missed the whole point of
the Society.....if we can bash our friends to powder on the fighting
field, or skewer them, in the case of Rapier, and then party all night
with them afterwards, it is not unreasonable to expect the same from
the "political" side.
It is most emphatically NOT a question of "us" against "them," but
rather "us" having a family argument. Admittedly, as any uniformed
police officer can tell you, a family argument is one of the worst
situations to be in, as it tends to get bitter very quickly, BUT: as
long as we remember that we ARE a family, of
sorts, then perhaps we can get past the bitterness and into the
REALITY of the definition of "politics," which is "the art of the
possible." There is always room for the other guy's opinions, and
those opinions DO have value. Perhaps when we listen to each other,
rather than yelling at each other, we can arrive at a synthesis of
values and objectives, and thus advance to the goal of "the greatest
good for the greatest number." That last buzzphrase should be the
operative aim of ANY SCA politics.
The Power Structure of any SCA chapter (Barony, Principality, Kingdom
&c) is very interesting, as it is much like any other Club. The three
MOST POWERFUL persons in any Branch do NOT include the Crowned heads,
altho if these Crowned Heads have a great deal of charisma/mana, then
they must be included in the equation....but if they are merely
figureheads or thronewarmers, then the following applies exclusively:
1) The Seneshal: legal agent of the group. Without the
approval of this Officer, the Group STOPS. 2) The Reeve:
handles the money. Without the approval of this Officer,
NOTHING can be done. 3) The Chronicler: without publicity, who
knows what's going on? With carefully contrived ADVERSE PR,
opinion can be molded in the Group. With carefully written
POSITIVE PR, the same, only constructively.
It follows, therefore, that if a faction gets control of these three
Offices, then they have effective control over a Group. It is advised
that NO faction make that mistake.....yes, I said MISTAKE....because
one of the long term results of such a thing is stagnation of the
Group....inbreeding of ideas, and eventual dissolution of the SCA
chapter due to lack of interest. Oh, sure, in the short term there's a
great deal that gets done, but in the long term the "new blood" tends
to get frozen out of effective participation, and thus.....stagnation.
At this point the Three Choices happen in the midst of hate, personal
vendettas, and much incredible unpleasantness.
This is where the Baron/ess, Prince/ess and/or King and Queen come in,
as do the superior Officers up the chain-of-command of the above three
named Power Figures. It is the RESPONSIBILITY of the Crowned Heads to
be ABOVE as much factionalisim as possible, within their sphere of
influence, and to make sure that no single faction is in control of a
whole group. These Crowned Heads should be VERY careful not to become
the nucleus of a faction unto themselves, however, as this tends to
become less of leadership of the whole group and more like
masturbation. Without input from "outsiders," you tend to get
complacent....and the Group goes down the tubes. The
Corporate/Kingdom/ Principality level Officers should be aware of who
is who and what's what, to help prevent a factional takeover.
A very common error on the part of Crowned Heads is to take their
"throne toadies" seriously. These kinds of folks are usually
ineffectual losers who are attracted by the trappings of power,
BUT...when they actually get their hands on it, they inevitably screw
things up to an awful mess. The more independent minded curmudgeonly
type, that doesn't "suck up," tends to be a much better choice for
Offices, as they have the capacity to make decisions and act on them
in an intelligent manner. They tend to be abrasive, but good, hard
workers who are VALUBLE to the group.
Another observation....in the SCA we have both kinds of "feudal"
relationships: the old feudal, based on personal honour, land tenure
(membership in a household or Barony), mutual interdependence,
personal loyalties, and a clear sense of "where you belong," AND we
have the later form, called "bastard feudalisim" by some writers,
which is based almost exclusively on "what's in it for me?" Usually
those who organize their political base on the second pattern find
that as their people get what they want, they tend to gravitate
towards whoever else gives them what they want next.....and they
usually end up wanting what their initial Lord/Lady have, and have no
compunction about taking it away from them. This works in reverse,
too, as there are people who simply think in the second pattern as a
matter of course,and thus, while a Lord or Lady may think that their
people are basing on the first pattern, they are actually grounded in
the second. This can wind up to be a very dangerous situation indeed.
Those that base on the first, however, tend to be quite happy with
what they happen to get, and, while they may move away from as close
an affilliation with their initial Lord/Lady, the bonds always remain,
tight and darn near unbreakable...on both sides.
It would behoove all to remember that this is how the usual "Good Old
Boys" SCA networks usually operate, if they are healthy.
Which leads into a discussion on these bonds: NEVER forget that they
work both ways. If you are a Lord/Lady of a Household, or Baron/ess of
a Barony, or Prince/ess or King/Queen, then YOU have responsibilities
to your people, too! If you flagrantly disregard these
responsibilities; if you regard your people as just "nothings,"
"nobodies," "spodes," "plebes," and such, then you will find that your
people will ignore you....a LOT, or even work against you. THIS IS
THEIR RIGHT! If you violate the Feudal Contract, then don't expect the
other party(s) to fulfill it either. If you treat people like dirt,
then expect the favor to be returned.....with interest! People tend to
have LONG memories about such things in the SCA; feuds like this tend
to last a long time.
The Household is the place to begin with the job of preventing or
minimizing factionalisim. I offer the solution that I discovered in my
own House as one means of doing so:
"Any member of the Confederation of Locksley Households is free to act
as they see fit in SCA politics. The Confederation will NOT back you,
as a group."
"Any member of the Confederation may hold any Office in the SCA, from
King/Queen on down, or even sit the BoD, but they will do it in their
private persona and NOT as a member of the Confederation."
This helps to prevent someone from using the House as a power-base,
unless they can convince each and every member thereof of the validity
and goodness of their position.....and if they can do THAT with my
bunch of independent minded cusses, then they MUST HAVE SOMETHING!
Beware of setting your group up for eventual failure, however. Three
common mistakes are:
1) A limited outlookIf all your group does is fight, or Arts, or
SF/Fantasy discussions or single-culture stuff, &c, then you will
limit your interest to the "new blood"....and stagnate and die.
Solution: Encourage EVERYTHING!
2) Too much charisma/mana and too much Power residing in the
Leader.The "Fuhrer-Prinzip" (Leader Principle) didn't work for Nazi
Germany, or Stalinist Russia, and it sure as Hades won't work in the
SCA! If the Leader is incapacitated, or loses interest, or faces a
Palace Revolution, then the Group falls apart!
Solution: Have a Chain-of-Authority, and use it! Delegate Power as
much as possible...give your subordinates as much personal
responsibility as possible, and LET THEM MAKE THEIR OWN MISTAKES! They
will learn very quickly, or die.
3) Don't believe your own Publicity!A VERY large Household gave a lot
of PR time to the idea that they were NOT part of the "chivalry" of
the Kingdom, and were the "enemy." When, in the fullness of time,
their members wound up getting knighted, or other Peerages, the
contradictions inherent in the situation tore the group apart, and the
leaving of their
Leader, who had set himself up with number 2 above, also, darn near
destroyed the Group. Solution: Keep your sense of perspective, and
humor. This is, after all, a game of "let's pretend."
I hope that this provides a bit of an insight into the subject...it
grew a bit from the initial BBS message, but.....such things happen, I
One last thing: NEVER make a promise that you can't keep....and NEVER
make a threat. Both will make you permanent enemies.....and remember
what Yasser Arafat said: "Choose your friends carefully. Your enemies
will choose you."
To unsubscribe to the Kingdom of Atlantia mailing list, send a message
to email@example.com with no subject and the body consisting of: